Winter Pick-Me-Ups to Brighten Your Décor and Your Day #0115182

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  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Standing by to help you with your how-to project. We want to help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. If there is a project on your to-do list, pick up the phone and call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you want to improve your money pit – you want to make it more beautiful, more energy-efficient, more comfortable, more easier to take care of – give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at

    We’ve got a great show planned for you today. First up, now that we are deep in winter, are you tired of feeling, well, tired? We’re going to have some easy do-it-yourself pick-me-ups for your home that will help lift your spirit and beat those winter blues, just ahead.

    LESLIE: Plus, water is the enemy of every roof and there are lots of ways for it to sneak past those roofing shingles and damage your home. We’re going to share a surefire solution that can help.

    TOM: Plus, we’ve got five fast home improvement hacks that can help you save time, energy and make your space look great. So let’s get to it. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Laurie is on the line and has a lighting question. What can we do for you?

    LAURIE: Over the weekend, I went into the closet and discovered that the transformer for my fluorescent light fixture in my closet was smoking.

    LESLIE: Oh.

    TOM: Wow.

    LAURIE: So we got – yeah.

    TOM: Not good.

    LAURIE: We got the power killed and the unit taken off.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURIE: Then I went to the store to find a replacement. I had a two-round fluorescent fixture: one with a 22-watt, one with a 32-watt bulb in this center of an 11-foot-long by, say, 52-inches-wide closet. I’m trying to figure out how much light I need, figuring I’m going with LEDs for energy savings. And I’m sitting there staring at ceilings and light fixtures with so much light, I can’t judge. It’s talking to me in lumens and it’s saying this is the equivalent of 175-watt-bulb or 2 …

    TOM: Yeah. Well, this is a closet, so I say you really can’t have too much light.

    Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: I mean I guess it depends on your comfort level with lighting. If you – some people are very light-sensitive and get ocular migraines, so you have to be careful that you don’t over-light it. But I think it’s a basis of what was in there before.

    LAURIE: One’s 32 watts, the other one’s 22. And both were on at all times.

    TOM: Why’d you have them on all the time?

    LAURIE: Whenever I was in the closet, they were on.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    LAURIE: What I’m saying is that I didn’t have a choice in just lighting one of the two bulbs.

    LESLIE: Or a dimmer or any of that.

    LAURIE: No.

    LESLIE: And that provided sufficient lighting? You didn’t have dark spots? You didn’t have any areas where you couldn’t see?

    LAURIE: I did have dark spots.

    LESLIE: You did?

    LAURIE: Yeah. At the corners of the room, because it’s in the center of the room. It’s long and skinny. So, the two dark corners …

    LESLIE: I think a good solution is forgo the electricity altogether and go for a wall-mounted item that you can put up yourself, that’s battery operated, that will have an occupancy sensor on it that knows when you’re coming and going or even ones that you can just turn on. Mr Beams, they manufacture a couple of different battery-operated lights that will run for ages and ages and have a ton of lumens that’ll give you the brightness you need.

    TOM: Yeah, if you want to try and determine how many lumens you had there before, a 22-watt circular bulb, which is maybe the size of your smaller one, that’s roughly about 1,000 lumens.

    LAURIE: Yeah. OK.

    TOM: So that just kind of gives you a ballpark. But the LED lights are going to be so much brighter than the old fluorescents that you had. They’re going to be safer to run. It’s almost not …

    LESLIE: And cleaner, I feel like.

    TOM: Yeah. And cleaner. And you already have the wiring there. But if you wanted to go and put one fixture up where you had the wiring and then go to the deepest, darkest corner of that closet and put in a couple of Mr Beams battery-powered LEDs – I’ve got one of those in my closet and I’m telling you, it really works well. Because sometimes, I go in there – and there’s a light on in the room where the closet is. But when you open the door, you really can’t see into it. And as soon as I open the door and stick my head in there, boom, the light comes on and I can see just fine. So, you might even want to do a combination like that so you don’t have those dark spots and then you can really see what you’ve got there.

    Go to It’s a manufacturer that specializes in battery-powered LED lights. And the lights that I put up, the batteries last for an entire year. It’s amazing when you see that they’re battery-powered and how much brightness they come on with. They’re really super bright and they’re not expensive.


    TOM: They’re like $30, $40 a light.

    LAURIE: Wow.

    TOM: And then you can find them at lots of different retailers and so on. But get one and test it out. You’ll be really surprised with how bright it is.

    LAURIE: OK. Thank you so much because like I said, after trying to look at all the fixtures – and I would see 80, 120, you know?

    TOM: Yeah, it’s kind of a – yeah. Yeah, it’s like you get snow-blind, right?

    LAURIE: I came home with a headache.

    TOM: Yeah, I hear you. Alright. Well, I think that what makes the most sense is for you to put in one decently sized LED fixture. And then if you’ve got some dark spaces, pop a couple of the battery-powered ones in there and I think you’ll be well-covered.

    LAURIE: OK. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    LESLIE: Bill in Michigan is on the line with a question about insulation. How can we help you?

    BILL: I rebuilt a whole farmhouse up in northern Michigan and it was originally a story-and-a-half. I took it up to two stories and I had to replace the roof because it was such bad shape. The house was originally built in 1913.

    TOM: OK.

    BILL: So I put some scissor trusses on it. And up in Northern Michigan, I had never heard of an energy truss. And so I – my wife wanted a vaulted ceiling, so I put the scissor trusses. And now I’ve only got – over by the wall, I’ve only got 3 inches of room between the ceiling and the outside of the roof.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. Pretty cold, right?

    BILL: Well, I get ice dams and it’s a – and I never – I didn’t dream we had – you’d ever have this much snow when I moved up here in the snowbelt of …

    TOM: Oh, man. Right, right. So, let me ask you a question: now that your ceiling is all finished, how bad do you want to fix this? Because I’m going to tell you what I would do and that is I would remove my drywall and I would apply spray-foam insulation to the underside of that roof surface. And that would make an enormous difference.

    BILL: I put knotty pine up there and it’s real pretty.

    TOM: Oh, it’s knotty pine. Wow, man, it breaks your heart. The only other way to do this is, when it’s time to replace the roof, is to take it off from the top side. I actually did that on my house, because I had a section of my old house – and by the way, when you say 1913 to Leslie and I, that’s a young house, OK? We live in homes that are much older.

    LESLIE: Right. We have similarly-aged homes.

    TOM: Yeah, much older than that. But I had one section of the house that was – had such a low attic space, I couldn’t really get into it from below.

    BILL: Yeah.

    TOM: So when we did the roof, we tore off the roof sheathing from the outside.

    BILL: Yeah.

    TOM: And then we applied spray foam and we shot it down across what was essentially the back of the drywall.

    BILL: Yeah.

    TOM: And that particular section of the house was always about 10 degrees colder in the winter and 10 degrees hotter in the summer. And literally, the day after we did this, it was the same temperature as the rest of the house. It was the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen in terms of energy conversion.

    BILL: The spray foam would be the best way to go, even though I only have 4 inches between the ceiling and the roof?

    TOM: Absolutely. It’s more efficient than any other type of insulation and any kind of bad insulation out there.

    BILL: I put the foam boards in there – the 3-inch foam boards in there – all along the edge. Because when after I put the roof on, I’d seen I was going to have trouble, before I put the ceiling up.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. Mm-hmm.

    BILL: And then since then, I’ve put a standing-seam steel roof on it.

    TOM: Right.

    BILL: And all those things have helped a little bit.

    TOM: Oh, so you can’t even take the roof down apart because it’s standing-seam metal. Well, you’ve got a beautiful roof.

    I’ll tell you, given that set of circumstances, I think eventually what you’re going to probably want to do is disassemble that pine ceiling. And if you do it right, you could probably mark each board – number each board. And if it’s taken out carefully, you can probably put it back in exactly the same spot.

    BILL: Yeah.

    TOM: And I’ll tell you what else that would do: that would give you the opportunity to deepen the trusses by maybe a couple or 3 inches. You can basically put …

    BILL: Maybe put some 2x4s right down the …

    TOM: Yep, exactly. You can deepen that truss and have room for more insulation. And when you go with spray foam, you don’t have to worry about ventilation anymore, ever. It’s a different system. It’s …

    BILL: Yeah, OK. Just put the spray foam right on the ceiling?

    TOM: Yep. No vents. No ridge vents, no soffit vents. It basically becomes a sealed attic space and …

    BILL: When I put the steel on, I had them go and open up the ridge vent, thinking maybe I could get …

    TOM: Yep. Yeah. Won’t need that anymore.

    BILL: But that didn’t – that just let more cold air in the attic.

    TOM: Yeah, you need to do that with batt insulation but you don’t need to do it with foam insulation. So I think that’s probably the best option for you. I know it’s probably not what you want and you probably called figuring, “I’m going to get a fast fix that’s going to solve this.” But I don’t think there is one for that set of circumstances. And that’s kind of what I would do in Northern Michigan. Gosh. And even though it’s a lot of work, it’s going to end up saving you a lot of money in energy and comfort, too.

    BILL: And that’s what I kind of want to tell your viewers – if you’re going to build up here, make sure you use the energy trusses and put a steel roof on. That’s the only way to go.

    TOM: Alright. Thanks, Bill. It’s good advice. I appreciate you calling us, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Give us a call with your home repair or home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right here at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: Up next, are you tired of feeling, well, tired? It’s common this time of year but it does not have to be. We’ll have some easy DIY pick-me-ups for your home that will lift your spirits, next.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here for you, to help with your home improvement questions at 888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call or post your question, right now, to the Community page at

    LESLIE: Jim in Washington is on the line with a question about hot water and it not getting there fast enough. What is going on?

    JIM: The house is a little less than 30 years old. And it’s not really that things have changed that much but trying to get hot water to the kitchen sink and to the upstairs master bath takes quite – what feels like quite a bit of time. So I’m looking at putting in a recirculating pump out near the hot-water heater with a crossover sensor valve for the furthest run from the hot-water heater, which is upstairs.

    TOM: Yep. OK.

    JIM: The kitchen, I don’t know if it needs a separate sensor or not. And I don’t know but I imagine it’s on a different leg, if you will, of the run from the hot-water heater. Just I don’t know because we weren’t here when the house was built.

    TOM: It’s possible, depending on how the piping is arranged. What kind of a pump are you thinking about putting on? There’s one made by Watts.

    JIM: Yep, it’s a Watts; 500800, I think, is the number that seems to get the best reviews. So I guess, basically, I’m concerned whether – is that a good pump? Evidently, it must be OK.

    TOM: It is. Those guys really know what they’re doing and they were out early with this product. And what I like about the Watts system is this: there’s a timer on it or a thermostat on it so you can basically control when it runs. So what you do is you set it up so that, you know, if you get up the same time every day and pop in the shower at, I don’t know, 6:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., you have this kick on a half-hour ahead of time so it purges all of the cold water out of the pipes and is then hot when – basically, before you need it. So when you step in the shower, it’s on.

    So, that means that you don’t have to run that loop of hot water all the time which, if you think about it, would drive up your heating costs because you’re heating more water than you would have to. So you set it up according to your own personal schedule.

    Now, there’s another way you can go and this is something you might think about doing if your water heater is maybe at or beyond a normal life cycle. Rheem just came out with a new water heater that’s called the Performance High-Efficiency Tankless Gas Water Heater with built-in recirculation. They actually added the recirculation element to the water heater itself. So, much like the way that Watts system works, where there’s a crossover valve at the farthest fixture away, you would do this with the Rheem unit. And then the water heater is sort of taking over here. And it’s a really smart one and has a smart technology built into it so it actually sort of starts to manage or measure your patterns of water usage. And when it kind of gets used to when you want the water to be hot, it supplies it before you need it.

    So I think that’s kind of a cool technology, sort of the next level of that. And they’re not terribly expensive for the fact that it’s tankless, so you never run out of hot water. They’re at Home Depot for around $1,300 or $1,400 right now. So I think for a good water heater, that’s not a lot of money to pay, especially if it has this built-in technology. So those are two options for you that could both work well.

    JIM: Excellent. Thank you. I appreciate that information.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, the days are shorter and colder which, for a lot of people, brings on a case of the blues. But here’s a reason to smile: studies show that a few easy changes to your living space can spruce up your home and your spirits.

    TOM: Yep. Now, for starters, let’s turn on those lights. It might sound simple but improved lighting can make you feel better, especially this time of year when darkness sets in so early. And it’s also a good time of year for additional and also better-quality lighting, as well. With the advent of LED technology, it’s never been easier to add bright, white light to a workspace or a softer glow for living areas.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You might also consider planting an indoor garden. Colorful flowers or herbs can go a long way toward reminding you that spring exists and is coming again. You just want to make sure that you choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight, since most flowers or veggies need as much as six hours of direct sunlight each day to grow and thrive.

    TOM: And a quick pick-me-up for your front-door entranceway can also raise your spirits even before you step foot outside. So think about polishing up the hardware or swapping out a doormat. These are little changes that go a long way, as would, say, new paint or a new door altogether.

    A new door altogether can be really helpful in not only making the place look great but actually driving up your real-estate value. In fact, there was a survey a couple years back where they took photos of homes and just photoshopped in new doors and all of a sudden, people thought they were worth more money. It was pretty cool; kind of a blind study. So that’s a really simple fix that can add some style and some cash next to your house.

    LESLIE: Alright, guys. Finally, don’t forget to please the most powerful of all your senses: your sense of smell. Citrus scents are known to energize and rejuvenate. And jasmine and grapefruit can ease depression and sadness. So many people find benefit from essential oils. So use oils, incense, candles. Just use all these things safely to add those aromas to your living space.

    TOM: And if you want more great ideas to spruce up your home for winter, we’ve got them online at

    LESLIE: Kimberly in Delaware is on the line with an interesting question. I’m reading your bath mats got melted to the floor? How did that happen?

    KIMBERLY: No, I clean houses for a living and I went to clean a house. And the lady asked me if I can get it up and she said it’s been there for two years.

    LESLIE: What?

    TOM: Wow. Stuck to the floor, huh?

    KIMBERLY: No, to the – inside the bathtub. It melted into – inside the bathtub.

    TOM: Oh, the bathtub. And you couldn’t get it up? You couldn’t pull it off?

    KIMBERLY: No, no, no. I tried. It’s stuck there. It’s like cement.

    TOM: I’m thinking it might be glued in place and not melted. Did she buy the house with this bath mat?

    KIMBERLY: No. She’s had the house for 20 years and they put it – and she put the bath mat there herself. And she said her husband just put it in there so they wouldn’t fall, because they’re elderly people. And it’s been like that for two years, she said.

    TOM: Well, I guess she would know herself if it was glued in place. I don’t necessarily have a good solution for you here. Generally, if I find something that’s adhered and needs to be loosened up, I’ll use a product like WD-40. But I’m afraid to tell you to use that in the bathtub because I don’t want them to slip. But that tends to break any adhesive bond that is resulting. But it’s also a lubricant.

    So you could try very, very carefully under one corner of it, see if it loosens up. But you’ve got to rinse it thoroughly and scrub it thoroughly because otherwise, you’ll leave a very slick surface there.

    I guess the other thing that you could try would be an adhesive – a citrus-based adhesive remover. There are orange-based products – citrus-based products that can – are used to remove adhesive.

    But I have a hard time believing that this wasn’t adhesive that actually glued itself to it. And I don’t think it melted. I think there was some sort of maybe chemical reaction between the rubber mat and the bathtub that caused them to bond. Now, I will warn you that even if you get this up, it’s very possible that the surface of the tub could be damaged. And you may be having something else that you don’t like to look at there, as a result.

    KIMBERLY: And that’s what I’m afraid of. Because I’m her house cleaner and I don’t want to get blamed for the tub being messed up, either, so …

    TOM: Yeah. Then I don’t think you should take that – I don’t think it’s your responsibility. I would say you tried but it’s stuck in place and leave it at that.


    TOM: I agree with you. You don’t want to make the situation worse and get them upset and then – and be potentially responsible for finding a solution to an impossible problem.

    KIMBERLY: OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Yeah, you’re welcome, Kimberly. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and have a great day.

    LESLIE: Just ahead, in snowy climates, the winter season is the most dangerous time of year for your roof, due to ice dams. We’re going to share the one thing that you can do to prevent serious damage, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well in snowy climates, the winter season is the most dangerous time of the year for your roof. That’s because it’s also the season for ice dams, which every year cause thousands of dollars of damage to individual homes. There’s a product that could stop ice dams, though. And it’s an innovative roof underlayment called Grace Ice & Water Shield, which goes underneath the roof shingles.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It’s made by GCP Applied Technologies and with us to talk about that is David Baur, Product Manager for Grace Ice & Water Shield.

    Welcome, David.

    DAVID: How are you doing, Tom?

    How are you doing, Leslie?

    TOM: We are doing awesome. And I’ve got to tell you that there are certain storms that just seem to be perfect for the formation of ice dams. So, for those folks that are hearing this and are not familiar with what an ice dam is, let’s start right there. Could you describe it for us?

    DAVID: Yeah. So an ice dam is a – forms on the roof after a snowfall. When the snow is heated by the sun, there’s a little bit of melting that occurs. Water flows to the edge of the roof and freezes when it hits that cold-eave area of the roof. When that happens over repeated times, what happens is a little ice dam – a little dam – forms and water backs up behind that. And that water can then become a problem and cause a leak in your roof.

    TOM: Now, that leak can go through the ceiling, go down the wall, it can get into the electrical wiring. It can be a pretty big mess. But why is it that roof shingles themselves don’t stop the water from coming through?

    DAVID: Well, the roof shingles alone are not enough to protect the roof from leaks. What really makes the difference from – in protecting against ice – leaks from ice dams is the roofing underlayment. It’s specifically a self-adhered-type roofing underlayment, like Grace Ice & Water Shield, is very effective at preventing roof leaks through those fastener penetrations or joints in the sheathing.

    LESLIE: Now, that’s interesting because an underlayment isn’t something that I think a homeowner is always thinking about when they’re getting the new roof. They’re so focused on the shingles and the aesthetic of the roof itself that unless you have an informed roofing contractor or an informed homeowner, I think this really is a disconnect here on what’s the proper underlayment to get or even to have one at all.

    DAVID: Yeah. Not all roof underlayments are the same. What you really want to make sure is that you’re using a quality self-adhered underlayment in all those critical areas which – we talk about critical areas. We mean the eaves of the roof, the valleys, any sort of roof-to-wall transition, around penetrations. These are all areas that are very prone to leaks, very prone to snow and ice building up and causing these ice dams and allowing the water to get into the home.

    A high-quality self-adhered underlayment is going to seal and stick very aggressively to the roof deck. It’s going to stick very aggressively and overlap so water can’t back up into it. And it’s also going to seal around all those fasteners – those thousands and thousands of fasteners – that are used to hold on your roof shingles.

    TOM: This product is typically installed in – in fact, it’s required by building code in areas where ice dams are very common, which is the northern sort of most areas of our country. But there’s really no reason to not to use it anywhere. Even in the south, where we don’t get winter storms and we don’t get ice dams, this product actually has been recommended by FEMA, because it can stop leakage that would occur if a storm were to blow your shingles off, right?

    DAVID: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s very effective at protecting the inside of the building from leaks due to wind-driven rain like occurs in a hurricane. You know, we’ve heard reports after the hurricanes of this past season, of roofs that where the shingles were – the roof was stripped of shingles, yet the inside of the home remained relatively safe because water did not get in through the roof.

    TOM: Yeah, it seems that for years and years and years we’ve been using tar paper. It’s quite pointless when you realize the value of having a self-adhered underlayment, like Grace Ice & Water Shield, installed.

    The product has been around for a lot of years. I understand you guys are celebrating your 40th anniversary. Is that right?

    DAVID: Yeah, 40th anniversary; 2018 is a really special year. We invented this product and this category, really – this category of products 40 years ago. And we’ve really prided ourselves on delivering the best-in-class roof-leak protection.

    TOM: I can’t imagine building a roof without this product. It’s protecting 25 million roofs to date, so I guess it’s destined to stick around for a few more years, David.

    DAVID: Yeah, I believe so. I believe so.

    TOM: Alright. David Baur, the product manager for GCP Applied Technologies. The product is called Grace Ice & Water Shield. If you’d like to learn more, you can go to their website – is,

    Thanks again, David. Have a great day.

    DAVID: Thank you, Tom.

    Thank you, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Alright, David. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    Hey, do you want to tackle a home improvement project but don’t have much time? We’re going to share 5 fast hacks that take 30 minutes or less to complete, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Look around your house. We know there’s a project you want to get done. Perhaps you just need a little inspiration or education to tackle that job. Give us a call right now. We’ll help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, some home improvement projects are fun but others you just want to get done as quickly and inexpensively as possible, which is where hacks can help. Here are five easy ones that can be done in 30 minutes or less.

    TOM: Now, first up, this is one that is so simple to do but could just literally save you thousands of dollars. We want you to label your water valves.

    Imagine that a pipe broke in your ceiling. Water’s now leaking through every electric light fixture onto your brand new carpet, your appliances, whatever. You’ve got that mental picture; it’s not pretty, right? Here’s how you fix it. You want to locate and label every important water valve in your house, including the main water valve, the hose valves, ice-maker valves, water-heater valves. If the unthinkable level of leak like that ever really did happen, you’d now be all of 30 seconds away from stopping the flow because you did your homework: you spent a few minutes labeling all those valves. Just hang tags on them, so you know if the leaks happen right where to go to turn that water off. You can fix the plumbing a lot easier when it’s not pouring down your ceiling.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next hack is stopping toilet leaks. Now, toilet flush-and-fill valves can break down over time and that wastes a lot of water. A running toilet or one that ghost-flushes all by itself, that really is in need of some new valves. Another easy way to tell if the flush valve is leaking is to add food coloring to the toilet tank, inside the tank, and then wait 30 minutes and check in the bowl of the toilet. If that food coloring has leaked into the bowl, than that flush valve is leaking and should be replaced. And that’s a job that can easily be done in less than 30 minutes and truly, for just a few dollars.

    TOM: Next, you can really spruce up your bathroom by simply caulking a tub. Bathtubs are really the closest thing in the home to a boat and that proximity to water wears on the caulk, which has to be replaced. So you want to remove the old caulk, clean out that lip of the tub. Use a one-to-four-part solution of bleach and water to kill any mold or mildew that might be left behind. Fill the tub with water and recaulk. And yes, you heard that right, so take off those shoes and step in. When the caulk dries, drain the tub. As the water drains, the tub will come back up and compress that new caulk so it won’t fall out.

    LESLIE: Alright. That’s a great tip.

    Next up, here’s a good hack: exercise your circuit breakers. Now, exercise is good for you and it’s good for your circuit breakers, as well. About every six months, turn off each breaker and then turn it back on again. Every month, push the test button on any GFCIs in your house. Make sure that it stays flexible and strong, just like you after a good workout.

    TOM: And finally, clean those dryer-exhaust ducts. Not just the lint filter, the entire duct. Dryer fires happen when those ducts get clogged with lint. So to keep your dryer safe, you want to clean the entire exhaust duct from the dryer to the exterior vent. You can use a dryer-duct cleaning brush. They’re available at home centers or hardware stores. They’re really easy and inexpensive to use. And check to make sure your exhaust duct behind the dryer is not plastic. The old ones are. It’s not safe. You want to take that out and replace it with a metal duct.

    So there you go: 5 easy projects, each of which can be done inside of 30 minutes. And just think about how accomplished you’ll feel when you get that done.

    LESLIE: Freddy in South Carolina is on the line with a ventilation question. What can we do for you?

    FREDDY: I built a new house in 2006. Basically, it’s a vinyl-siding house, 2,000 square foot. I have two bathrooms. One is about 8×16. It has a three-wall shower with a whirlpool tub and two vanities in. And then the other hall bath is about 6×8. It just has a tub with a top in it: a shower/tub unit.

    And I’ve had – and I paint for a living, so I have streaks coming down the walls. Because when the electrician installed the vent in the bathroom – they’re 110 CFM but they just don’t suck out the – for the steam.

    TOM: Right.

    FREDDY: And one of them had a water trap in it. And so I got up there a few years ago and pulled where it wasn’t installed – the ventilation pipe – properly. So I got the water out of that so it wouldn’t be stopped up (inaudible). Then the other one just quit working.

    And my question is – I want to upgrade. And because I paint for a living and I run into a lot of folks that ask me, where I paint their bathrooms and they have streaks, as well. Now, I clean the streaks off and I repaint with a good grade of paint but the problem is now I’ve run into the same problem. And I’ve always just told my customers, “Just find you a good exhaust fan to take care of your problem.” Now, I’m in that position. And so I’m out that point and I’m trying to find out, because I’ve lost a little confidence in some of the box-store items. And so, therefore, I’m looking for a good brand to put in that will cut that out.

    TOM: So I understand your question. It’s a very simple solution and that is you want a good-quality exhaust fan and you want one that has a humidity sensor on it. Because even if you have a timer on there, it doesn’t necessarily, you know, sync with when the bathroom is that humid.

    So I would look at Broan-NuTone – B-r-o-a-n – NuTone.


    TOM: It’s a good brand. They have a whole bunch of products that have humidity sensors designed right into them so that the fan can come on automatically when the humidity is high in the bathroom, which is what you want. They’re very quiet fans, so they’re not going to make a racket.


    TOM: And you did speak to the other issue, which is proper venting. It sound to me like the vents – the ventilation was – the vents were sagging or something and letting water collect in them. That’s, of course, very bad.

    FREDDY: Yeah.

    TOM: But would I would do is I would make sure that I have solid-metal ducting on that, if I could, and get outside as quick as I could. And then make sure that when the fan is running, you can actually see the vent open up on the outside of the building.


    TOM: But if the venting is done right and you have a good-quality fan that has a humidistat built into it, that’s the key. That’s going to make sure that moisture can’t possibly build up and cause all those issues for mold and mildew and streaking and so on.

    FREDDY: Humidifier? An automatic humidifier?

    TOM: It’s not a humidifier. It’s not a humidifier. It’s a humidistat, which is a switch – a humidity-sensing switch – that controls when the fan operates.

    FREDDY: Humidistat, OK.

    TOM: Yep. It’s a humidity- and motion-sensing fan.

    FREDDY: Also, I read online about stepping up to a 6-inch pipe instead of a 4-inch on ventilation?

    TOM: It depends on how far the duct is run. But I would just follow the manufacturer guidelines on that.

    Look, go to Broan – B-r-o-a-n – .com and – or just Google “Broan humidity-sensing bath-exhaust fans.” You’ll find the page. There’s lots of options. They’re not terribly expensive. They’re pretty easy to put in. They’re pretty well-built.

    FREDDY: Yeah.

    TOM: And I think you’ll find that with that first set of fans being put in in 2006, they’re over 10 years old now. That’s a pretty reasonable life expectancy. It’s time for a new one and now you have some better-quality fixtures out there to choose from.

    FREDDY: Right, exactly. And I was reading online about stepping up from a 4- to a 6-inch around and like you said, going back with a solid duct would be better to get the airflow out. Because when I cut – when we’re taking a shower, it just steams up the mirrors and everything else.

    TOM: Yeah, it makes a difference. When we remodeled our bathroom a few years ago, we were doing some work in the attic. And I knew that I had sort of – that was the opportunity to reconfigure the ductwork, so I just got some 4-inch solid-metal duct and I just did a really good job putting it all together. And now there’s zero resistance.

    When you have that corrugated ductwork, there’s a lot of resistance in there. And it doesn’t make the fan as efficient and it’s noisier and it can collect water. So I’ve just got a straight metal duct. Goes right out of the house in as short a run as possible. And it makes a big difference, so that’s my advice. I think you’re on your way.

    FREDDY: OK, good enough. And I sure do appreciate it.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, how much snow is too much snow for your house, on the roof and on the deck? Well, that’s something the folks in Erie, Pennsylvania wondered a lot about when they got 80 inches of snow between Christmas and New Year’s. I mean all the videos online, it was amazing to see the massive amount of snow that got dumped on them. It was crazy. We’re going to share some tips to protect your home from all that weight, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, Leslie, I was thinking about the snow that’s been coming down in different parts of the country. And the biggest example, of course, was from the holiday season over in Erie, Pennsylvania. They got 80 inches between Christmas and New Year’s.

    LESLIE: I’ve never seen anything …

    TOM: Crazy, crazy amounts. Imagine more snow than we are tall, you know what I mean?

    LESLIE: Its crazy.

    TOM: Just an insane amount of snow. And I’ve got to say I’m glad I didn’t live there, because all my snow shovelers would not have been home at the time.

    But that kind of snow, you wonder what kind of damage it could do to your house. And the truth is that if you’re going to get that kind of snow accumulation on your roof, it actually has a pretty significant amount of weight. So what you want to do, if you live in an area with heavy snowfall, is to always have a roof rake handy.

    Now, a roof rake looks like an iron rake that you might use for gardening, except it’s about 3 feet wide. It’s made of aluminum and has a handle that comes in sections that go out to around 20, 25 feet. So the idea is that when the snow stops falling, you go out with this rake, sort of toss it up to your roof. You know, lift it so it goes up to the roof as high as you can and start pulling that snow down off the roof.

    Because what ends up happening, in a lot of cases, is if you get a rainfall or warmer weather and you get that snow starting to melt, now you really collect a lot of weight in that roof and that can cause a collapse. So, if you do have heavy snowfall on a roof, on a deck – a surface like that – use a roof – a snow rake to pull off as much of that as you can. And that will help keep the weight to a manageable level.

    LESLIE: Alright, now Julie in Florida posted that she’s experiencing some chilly temps and is looking for an efficient heating system, because it seems like they need to use it there, too.

    TOM: Well, in Florida, you’ve got heat pumps and electric furnaces. And the reason for that is because it’s just too expensive to run gas. I would just tell you to continue to use what you have, Julie, because it’s not going to be cost-effective for you to run gas lines for a less-expensive heating system. If you lived in another part of the country, I’d tell you gas is more efficient. But in Florida, I would stick with the electric. If it is a heat pump, try to leave the thermostat in a steady level. Because when you raise it up and down, it tends to bring on its backup system, which is resistance heat. And that’s really expensive to run.

    Well, if you’re like most of us, there’s probably some areas of your home that are just not very well-lit. Good lighting is important. Not only does it make your home look bigger, it can also be much safer. Leslie has got some tips on how to improve your lighting, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.


    LESLIE: Yeah, first of all, let’s talk about your living and reading areas. You obviously need plenty of floor lamps and table lamps but you have to make sure that those lamps point toward the activity and not toward you. I think that’s the number-one mistake people make is they’ve got the lighting on themselves but not on what they’re doing.

    Now, one area where direct lighting is super important is the kitchen. If you only have one main overhead light source, you want to consider adding additional pendant fixtures above your work surfaces. And then you can even mount task lights underneath the cabinets.

    Now, if you have a room that’s tough to fill with natural light – like maybe it’s only got one window – an easy fix is to place mirrors in strategic locations. And that’s going to bounce the light around the room. It’s going to reflect what you see out the window. It instantly makes the space feel bigger and brighter.

    And if you’ve got someone in your family with vision problems, you can take advantage of high-contrast colors. Put a dark switch plate on a light wall and choose bright colors for furniture and accessories that really will make somebody with a vision issue have a much better time navigating around that space.

    For more easy lighting tips, visit

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, finding out when your house was built and maybe who lived within its walls and what changes homeowners made along the way can be a challenging project. But it’s also a fascinating journey. We’re going to give you some tips to help you uncover the history of your very own home, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2018 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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